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Beautiful Andes – we stick to them as long as possible

It is truly a region you easily can fell in love with if you like nature, mountains, lakes, wild rivers, horses, dogs AND the friendly open minded Argentinians. Already when we entered Argentina the first time back in January we were wondering about the cars and trucks coming towards us were waving and using the flash light or horning. In the beginning we were alerted thinking there is maybe a police check upcoming or something on our bikes is wrong… but NO, they only want to greet you and showing their sympathy. And if you stop at any cross light they open their windows to talk to you and showing thumps up. The Argentinians are incredible welcoming you and always interested and excited.

Pretty soon we learned how to prepare a good asado (BBQ) and you can be pretty sure that each house in Argentina is having an asado place. The meat which they have here is really good (Kerstin never had that much meat before in her all life) and the wine doesn’t rank behind. We really enjoy it even though we did not adapt the time of doing the asado.  The Argentines eat really late and Restaurants are often not open before 8pm. The opening time of the shops can challenge you as well. They close around noon mostly sharp at 1pm – ALL the shops. If you are lucky they open up at 5pm sometimes only 6pm or even later. So you have deal with it and either stock up or drive out again later for shopping.

We were facing the reality that our journey will come to an end soon. Sascha needs to be back in the office in June and we still need to find a new flat in Hamburg. We had to start organizing the transport of the bikes, the flights for us and our arrival home. So we skipped the idea to drive up to Brazil and Uruguay and stayed instead in the Andes. Here we found gorgeous places where we could combine enjoying our last days as best as possible and at the same time having internet and being able to do whatever we have to do.

On Easter Sunday we thought it is a good opportunity to ride a last time up an Andes Pass. El Paso Sistema Cristo Redentor connects Mendoza in Argentina with Santiago in Chile. Shortly before you cross the border you can ride up a steep sandy dirt road to “Christ the Redeemer of the Andes”; the road climbs 1 km over a sinuous 9 km from Las Cuevas to the pass. It is a monument high in the Andes at 3,832 meters and unveiled on 13 March 1904 as a celebration of the peaceful resolution of the border dispute between the two countries. We had a great day and ride except one drop of bitterness: while riding uphill behind a stinky slow truck for a while we overtook though two solid yellow lines… and guess what! Yep the police was just waiting for us uphill around the corner. We each got a ticket over 170 Dollar – AUTSCH! We could not talk us out and while we tried they caught another Motorcyclist… That was an expensive Easter-trip and Kerstin received her first ticked of her life in Argentina hey!

If you have a look at the pictures you will probably understand why it is so hard for us leaving this region. We hope you enjoy the pictures….

Motorcycle Power Gaps – Trampoline del Diabolo, Colombia and stunning rides at high altitudes in Ecuador

ECUADOR here we come…

For our final ride in Colombia we chose the famous Devil´s Road ` El Trampolíndel Diablo/ El trampolín de la muerte´. (Taken from “The road is 69.7km. It’s known as Trampolín del Diablo (Devil’s trampoline), Adiósmi vida (Bye bye my life) or Trampolín de la Muerte (Death’s trampoline).” Once more we met Jason and George on the way south and decided to go together. We all enjoyed the ride and on this windy mountain road. We were lucky with the weather and had great views; only on the last kilometers we had some fog and rain. The gravel road was mostly in good condition and only in few parts has been very narrow. Not too deep river-crossings – so we passed them without any problems. Afterwards we reached the little village San Miguel where we spend our last night in Colombia. All in all an very nice ride, but neither an trampoline nor an devil… We had different roads in much worth condition…

 The next morning we head towards the little border cross into Ecuador and within 1,5 hours we had all paperwork for all 4 bikes and us done just before lunch break. Our first night in this new country we spend in a nice place with pool in El Dorado. For the next day we had different plans and we said good bye again to Jason and George.

We continued south, direction Quito. It was a nice ride on the E45 for the first 70 km with not much traffic. Then we had here and there landslides which covered the “street”; muddy parts with rocks and branches to pass but nothing too bad. At one point we had cars lining up and as usual we overtook carefully to go in front; usually it´s a question of construction and just one lane is closed for a while. But in this case it looked completely different.When we reached the end of the line we saw that an massive landslide came down the hill. The next 30 meters of the road was covered with half a meter of mud mixed with big trees and rocks as big as cars. Chatting with the people we were told a little bit further are two or three other landslides and the cleaning will take 2-3 hours probably. In the end it took 4,5 hours and it was clear we won´t make it to Quito today. We found a cheap clean room in El Chaco aside the highway and left early morning to get into Quito. On the way we drove up to 4200 meter and had a breathtaking view on the snow covered Volcán Antisana (5.704m). The only worry was Kerstin´s motorcycle. Again she had power gaps and at one point the engine was even just shutting of… UPPPPSSSSSSS

Nevertheless at noon we reached `Moto Hell´ in Quito and the owner Sada, his wife and the entire crew welcomed us friendly. First we wanted to check Sascha´s bike, valve check and carburetor synchronization. After4 hours and the professional hand of Enrique (Mechanico Magico!) it was done but too late to start with Kerstin´s bike. We left for that day to meet Josh who invited us to stay with him and we spend a great evening with him and his girlfriend Oriana from Venezuela. (Thank you both so much again for having us!And don´t forget to come to Europe soon!!!) The second day at Moto Hell we stripped Kerstin’s bike and Enrique figured out that the membranes of the carburetor had 6 holes. Honda is not having the parts, and not a new speedometer cable which broke a couple of days ago… But Enrique turned out to be our magic hero. He glued the splits and whipped even a new speedometer cable out of his pockets! 6,5 hours of work and the bike was put together. Hurray!!! One more day of laundry and sorting and we happily left Quito to explore more of Ecuador.

George joined us from now on and we did some fabulous roads together. Doing a loop to the Crater Lake, La Laguna del Quilotoa, and to the highest mountain of Ecuador, Volcán Chimborazo (6263m), we drove again and again long parts on the Pan-American Sur highway. And this time we enjoyed and loved it.  Most of the time we drove in very high altitudes of above 3800m and the landscapes were gorgeous. Some times we had rain or even hail and snow but mainly sun and breathtaking clear views.Now we reached the south tip, Vilcabamba and for tomorrow we plan to cross the border to Peru. It will be a little dirt road heading towards the border and we are not sure yet where we can get the insurance/SOAT… but we will find out.

For now we enjoy this peaceful valley near the Podocarpus National Park staying at Hostería Izhcayluma while doing some `office work´… just one little defect is running around our brain. On the long way from Quito to here we had once more a complete power outage at Kerstin’s bike… We cannot explain it as it was running perfectly except of that one outage. But!!! It makes us worry a bit and we try now to send a new membrane to any address in Lima… Cross fingers!!!